Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
The shooting of two men from Luke Lane in western Kingston yesterday morning underscored what has been a stressful time for residents as a group of young 'shottas' has emerged in sections of the community, creating a bomb, just waiting for the fuse to be lit.
A Sunday Gleaner probe has found that the increasingly explosive environment is being fuelled by the products of at least two former area leaders.
The young generation is reportedly preparing for a resurgence of their once-feared family names with a level of violence and brutality not seen since the security forces took control of the area in May 2010.
Over the past several weeks, the young thugs have been brazenly displaying their guns in the area with several cases of shootings and murders being reported by residents.
However, the police have vowed that they will not be surrendering the area to the rule of these criminals and will take whatever action is necessary.
"We are moving to advise the people that they will be inconvenienced with our operations and with whatever takes place," warned Terrence Bent, the senior superintendent in charge of the Kingston Western Police Division.
"We want to maintain the good relationship with the residents despite the things we have to do; however, we may have to take action that will, at times, restrict their movement," added Bent.
POLICE INITIATE TALKS
According to Bent, the police are well aware of the recent violent incidents and have initiated a series of talks to facilitate comments and suggestions from the residents.
"We are open to criticisms … . If there is any breach in how we operate, then they should inform us," he stressed.
Over a four-week period, more than 12 persons, including two pregnant teens, have been killed in the area around Tivoli Gardens, Denham Town and Matthews Lane.
A reported area don was among three persons killed as the bloodletting continued last weekend.
In the terrifying silence following each assault, both residents and police speak in hushed tones about efforts by young men to restore the lustre to the infamous Coke and Phipps 'dynasties', which controlled the area for much of the past 40 years.
Investigators have already named Michael Christopher Coke, otherwise called 'Tittyman', as well as Lester Charles Coke and Mark Watson Coke of the Denham Town and Tivoli Gardens as persons of interest.
Michael Christopher Coke and Lester Charles Coke turned themselves over to the police last week. They have not been charged for any crime.
POSITIVE INFLUENCE NEEDED
"We have to operate in terms of information that we receive … . So we are looking at the architecture and persons who are connected and who we feel are influencing it. So if people have influence, they must influence it positively and not negatively," stressed Bent
Police sources also say a close teenage relative of convicted murderer and former Matthews Lane strongman, Donald 'Zeeks' Phipps, is high on their radar in connection with several crimes committed in that area.
The people of Luke Lane and its environs are too terrified to speak openly, but they have whispered that a group of men from the nearby Matthews Lane, led by Zeeks' relative, has been terrorising them.
Head of the Kingston Central Police Division, Superintendent Steve McGregor, says he has taken a proactive approach to the upsurge in violence.
McGregor has engaged community members in an effort to quash the rage which has resulted in a frightening increase in violence in recent weeks.
He has been meeting frequently with residents of Luke and Matthews lanes as reports suggest that factions from these communities are at odds.
Last Wednesday, the meetings culminated with a joint affair as individuals from the feuding communities met on neutral ground, the Central Police Station.
EYES ON TIVOLI
Further west, Bent is keeping a close watch on the relatively quiet community of Tivoli Gardens, even as its residents clamour for closure to the ordeal of the May 2010 military operation in search of then fugitive Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.
Like McGregor, Bent is actively engaging in "serious" talks with residents.
"What we are doing now is meeting with the residents in small pockets, just to apprise them of what we are doing and the support that we need from them," Bent told The Sunday Gleaner.
"We are meeting like this because at the end of the day, we can't do it alone … . Our presence is not enough. We will have to have information … and support from the citizens, so we are engaging in street-corner meetings just to apprise them of what we are doing."
According to Bent, when he approached the young relatives of former area leaders, they have declared that they area not involved in the violence.
"I spoke to them and they give me a different context."
However, some residents in the area, who are not keen on reliving the past, are not convinced.
"Nuh mek dem tell yuh nothing. Dem heavily involved," one man told The Sunday Gleaner.
For many residents in the community, there are signs that the offspring of the once-feared area leaders are on the rise to reclaim the leadership of the communities which were, not so long ago, ruled with a heavy hand by their forebearers.
Their forebears were high-profile 'brand names' in the domain of community dons across the island, but with the passage of time, a combination of circumstances have left them dead or locked away.